Body pains emerge either out of an underlying sickness or a temporary condition. We often go to prescription drugs to alleviate the feeling of distress associated with pain. While the narcotic effects of drugs do relieve our pains, most of them have strong addictive characteristics especially when used over a longer period of time to relieve chronic pains.
According to Dr. Nora, D. Wolkow of the United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, around 26.5 to 36 million people use addictive painkilling narcotics throughout the world and there has been a four time increase in deaths in America since 1999 due to the overdose of addictive pain relievers.
These are horrifying facts that demand us to look somewhere else, to nature perhaps, as there is an abundance of herbs, even spices in our kitchen, fruits and juices that could relieve pains gently and harmlessly without giving us addictions or adverse side effects. By resorting to these natural pain killers we could actually gain good things out of our pains as the herbal remedies that we will discuss below contain multitudes of other health benefits.
- Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
Ancient Chinese used ginger as a natural painkiller to cure headaches, menstrual cramps, arthritis and muscle soreness. Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory, anti ulcer and anti oxidant properties.
The University of Miami conducted a study concluding that ginger extracts could one day take the place of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS).
So the next time you are headachy, take a cupful of ginger tea containing a pinch of ginger powder and you may feel pleasantly relaxed. Ginger extracts are also available in capsular forms in the market.
Other Health Benefits: Ginger is useful to reduce nausea. It has also a proven efficacy to lower high blood sugars and reduce the risk of cardiac arrests.
- Willow Bark (Salix)
Willows are found almost everywhere except Antarctica and Australia. It was long known in the ancient Greece dating back to 6000 B.C that willow extracts relieve pains, inflammations and musculoskeletal conditions. Willow bark is considered to be a natural Aspirin as it contains an ingredient called salicin that when processed by the human body becomes salicylic acid, a natural equivalent to aspirin.
Studies found that people who took a 240 mg daily dose of willow bark felt their back pain going away. Other studies revealed the efficacy of willow bark in the pain management associated with osteoarthritis. Willow bark is a very effective antioxidant too, that means its regular use can help in the prevention of cancers.
Other Health Benefits: There are certain uses of willow bark in weight loss programs besides treating common cold, flue and fever.
- Turmeric (Curcuma Longa):
Turmeric is a common kitchen spice is Asian households. It has a warm, bitter taste and its main ingredient curcumin is used to color and flavor curries. More than 6000 published articles in the US National Library Of Medicines on the benefits of turmeric speaks volumes of the importance of turmeric as a healing substance.
Turmeric contains about a dozen anti-inflammatory substances including cox-2 inhibitors. Cox-2 enzymes are known to produce pain, swellings and inflammations; turmeric effectively fights these enzymes. Taking the turmeric tea can effectively relieve the arthritic inflammations and pains.
Other Health Benefits: Turmeric has broad spectrum medicinal properties as laboratory studies in the US have concluded turmeric to be effective in the treatment of diabetes, cancers, gastrointestinal disorders, depression and the regulation of cholesterol.
- Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum):
Devil’s claw is a native African plant. Its roots and tubers are used as a medicine not only in Africa but in Germany, France and other European countries to relieve arthritic pains, gouts, fevers, migraines and headaches.
A study conducted to treat osteoarthritis revealed that after 16 weeks of treatment devil’s claw worked as well as Diacerhein, a slow acting drug for osteoarthritis; it significantly reduced pains in the hip and knee joint areas.
Dried and fresh root extracts of devils claw are available in capsules, tablets, ointments and teas.
Other Health Benefits: Devil’s Claw will not only relieve your pains but also be useful in the treatment of menstrual problems, various allergic reactions, kidney bladder and urinary tract infections and the loss of appetite.
- Cloves (Syzygium Aromaticum):
Its an established fact that cloves are the best remedy to provide relief from toothaches and inflammation and pains of the gums. Cloves, a common spice in kitchens are flower-buds of the clove tree.
Manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Magnesium and Fiber are the most important ingredients of clove. There’s also a substance in clove called Eugenol that is said to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and anti-bactericidal properties.
Headaches could effectively be cured with the application of a clove paste having 3-1 ratio of clove powder and cinnamon oil.
Other Health Benefits: These tiny flower buds have definite potential to treat upper respiratory tract infections like sore throats, soothe scrapes and bruises, and improve digestion.
- Birch (Betula Alba):
Rich in Salicylate, the same ingredient found in Aspirin, the Birch leaves and bark are natural pain relievers. Salicylate resists the body from producing certain prostaglandins that causes pain, inflammation and fever. The Birch bark and leaves are used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gouts and muscular pains.
The Birch extracts are taken as teas as well as used in oils for external application on painful muscles and joints.
Other Health Benefits: Birch, a strong diuretic, is used to increase the urine output that in turn decreases high blood pressure. Along with other fluids it is also used in the irrigation therapy to purify kidney and the urinary tract.
- Capsaicin (Capsicum):
Chili peppers contain this substance that makes the peppers spicy hot. It is either eaten raw or a dried powdered form is used a spice in cooking.
Its application on painful body parts is rather interesting; when applied it stimulates the intensity of pain, then decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body. The application of Capsaicin is believed to stimulate a substance that works as a communicating agent between the nerves in the spinal cord and other body parts. Capsaicin is used to relieve minor pains of muscles and joints, arthritis, backache, nerve pains and sprains.
Capsaicin cream or gel could be obtained over the counter that does not necessarily need a physician’s prescription.
Other Health Benefits: Capsaicin is said to have powerful anti-cancer properties. Besides, it is useful in the treatment of intestinal diseases. As a thermogenic agent Capsaicin improves the metabolic function hence can be useful in the burning of fats leading to weight loss.
- Cherries (Prunus Cirasus):
This juicy, luscious fruits is rich with antioxidants called anthocyanins, a substance also responsible for its red color besides its immense pain relieving abilities.
A study conducted by the Michigan State University revealed that anhthocyanins found in cherries were equal in effect to two over the counter NSAIDS to inhibit COX-2 enzymes responsible for inflammation and pain.
Tart cherry juice is proved to be effective in relieving the sore joints of athletes. Tart cherries also contain an ingredient called melatonin that helps relieves pains interrupting the sleep cycles. Dried cherries and cherry juice is generally used to cure pains like gout, sprains and fibromyalgia.
Other Health Benefits: Cherries contains weight loss reduction agents. A regular intake of cherries could also lower the risk of strokes.
- Cranberries (Vaccinuim Macrocarpon):
Cranberry, an evergreen wetland shrub, though believed to be an effective cure of various UTIs (urinary tract infections) could also be a useful pain reliever. Cranberries contain antioxidants, Vitamin C and Salicylic Acid.
For medicinal purposes a regular use of 2 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice diluted in 8 ounces of water could do wonders for your overall health and relieving body pains.
Other Health Benefits: Cranberries hold a wide range of therapeutic properties; from resisting the kidney stone formation to treating scurvy to reducing inflammation in lungs and so on. Cranberries could also improve the cardiovascular health as they protect arteries from narrowing. Cranberries are also used in the treatment of enlarged prostrates, type 2 diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome (cfs). The intake of Cranberry juice could also purify the urinary tract by increased urination.
- Feverfew (Tanacitum Parthenium):
A short bushed plant having beautiful daisy like flowers is also considered to be a herb having medicinal properties especially that of relieving pains. The uses of feverfew as a medicine has specifically bee associated with treating headaches, migraines and associated nausea and vomiting.
There is little scientific evidence though on the efficacy of Feverfew as an analgesic, as 5 five randomized studies conducted in 2004 showed mixed results of its effectiveness in treating migraines.
Feverfew is recommended to be taken in the form of freeze dried capsule as the teas may taste bitter and hard to swallow.
Other Health Benefits: Feverfew is also used to cure a skin disorder called psoriasis, various allergies, and prevention of miscarriages, diarrhea, toothache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.